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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

We All Need to Take This More Seriously

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Feb 2nd 2011

text in carAbout a year ago I was pulling out of my office and nudging out into an intersection to take a left turn when “Bling” a notification was telling me I had a text. I carefully looked to the left and saw a car coming up and so I decided to back up and wait for the car to go by before taking a left turn. All the while my mind was being pulled toward the text. As I backed up slowly I looked at my phone just to see who the text was from and *Wham* the accident arrived. Dangerously typical of our culture today.

Luckily no one was hurt, but it created an awareness of two things:

How texting may just be one of the greatest things to plague our fragile minds in this day and age.

How the mere thought of texting triggers our minds into auto-pilot so we lose awareness of how dangerous this is.

As you’re reading this, consider these facts I pulled from

• The No.1 source of driver inattention is use of a wireless device. (Virginia Tech/NHTSA)

• Nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event.(National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI); April, 2006)

• There is no difference in the cognitive distraction between hand-held and hands-free devices. (Simulator studies at the U. of Utah.)

• Distraction from cell phone use while driving (hand held or hands free) extends a driver’s reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (University of Utah)

• An August 2006 Teens Today survey showed that teens considered sending text messages via cellphones to be their biggest distraction. (August 2006 Teens Today survey conducted by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety and Students Against Destructive Decisions)

• Four out of five drivers have been both guilty of, and witnesses to, DWD. (Nationwide Insurance Survey, May 19, 2008)

• The number of monthly text messages reached 110.4 billion in December 2008, more than 10 times the number three years before. (Cellular Telephone and Internet Association (CTIA)

• Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent (Carnegie Mellon)

• Cell phone use contributes to an estimated 6 percent of all crashes, which equates to 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries and 2,600 deaths each year. (Harvard Center of Risk Analysis).

• Drivers using cell phones place 139,000 emergency calls each day, something that state police generally appreciate. (Cellular Telephone and Internet Association (CTIA)

However, the greatest problem is that when we’re texting, we’re unaware of our own unawareness. It’s called auto-pilot for a reason, because we don’t even know it’s happening.

So in order to combat this auto-pilot, we need to treat the action of no texting in the car as a discipline. It’s tough because many of us use car time to catch up on conversations. However, if you really take this time to read over the facts above and understand that that could be you, it’s worth the investment to at the very least go hands free.

The fact is texting in your car is non-negotiable no matter what your mind tells you. “Oh that’s other people, I can handle texting in the car, and I only do it at red lights.” These thoughts are a very slippery slope and not only are you putting yourself at risk, but the lives of those around you.

Almost everyone has a story now of either a personal experience or someone they know that has been in an accident while texting. Take this to heart.

As always please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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